Spalding United boss Chris Rawlinson admits this is make-or-break time.
The Tulips slipped into mid-table with Tuesday’s 3-1 home defeat to joint leaders Basford United.
Rawlinson said: “We’ve had five league defeats and we can’t afford many more in the next group of eight games.
“I’ve told the lads now is crunch time for the season.
“We can either believe in ourselves and go on, having won 12 out of 20 games.
“The other side is turning up against Sheffield, thinking we are going to beat them without trying, losing again and then facing the fact that a few of us won’t be here any more if that’s the case.
“We can’t start games like we did on Tuesday with an absolute uphill battle.
“We stood up to the test after that and should have got it back to 2-2.
“Football wise, it was the best I’ve seen us play.
“But this is the turning point of the season. Are we going to be a bang average mid-table side or will we get genuine aspirations of being in the mix for the play-offs?
If we play like we did in the second half, we’ve got every chance of being up there.Chris Rawlinson
“If we play like we did in the second half, we’ve got every chance of being up there.
“But we need to finish off those chances and become better in both boxes. We’ve got to show faith.
“Basford are unbeaten in 10 league games and fair play to them.
“They had chances as well but we are disappointed to concede those goals.
“There was panic and a lack of communication for the first goal.
“We didn’t get tight enough for the second one and their penalty came from a through-ball between our two centre-halves.”
The Tulips are without a game this weekend after being given exemption to the Buildbase FA Trophy first qualifying round.
On October 28, they will be away to the winners of Saturday’s preliminary round tie between Chasetown and Market Drayton Town.
Spalding’s next fixture in the Evo-Stik South is at home to Sheffield on October 14.
Midfielder Lee Beeson has rejoined the Tulips after a spell at Corby Town.